The kids rivalry in the 11 and under division

Dallas Liu and Danny Etkin went head to head in competition all weekend

The New England Open is a long-standing tournament in the North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA) league.  The eventdraws competitors from all over the New England area and the NASKA 5A rating brings many top competitors looking for good competition and ratings points.  The 2011 tournament was held June 3-4, 2011 in Marlboro, Massachusetts – a leisurely drive from Boston, Providence, and other airports.  Tournament promoter Joe Greenhalgh strives to bring innovation to his event while offering good local competition to keep to top competitors on their toes.  What made this year’s event fun was the mini-rivalries going on within various divisions as competitor, especially the kids, try hard to best their competition.

Friday night competition started on time and ran continuously throughout the evening.  It was around 9:00 p.m. when the competition ended – enough time to get some food, rest and prepare for Saturday. introduced you to the fearsome threesome – Kalman Csoka, Matt Emig and Marc Canonizado – in earlier articles.  At New England Open, only one of the threesome – Matt Emig – attended.  Emig walked away with plenty of wins for the evening.

For the women’s divisions, Caitlin Dechelle was the dominate competitor with Becca Ross next in line.  Ross was a bit impeded in her competition when her teammate Nick Schneider shook her ipod causing her music to mess up during musical weapons.  She did not win and made sure Schneider suffered later.

The Most Spectacular Weapons Drop award goes to Alex Patterson who not only dropped his kama but actually flung it about 40 feet in the air and across the competition room where it hit a wall and dropped to the floor.  No harm came to the weapon, Alex or any spectators from this aggressive drop.  Patterson was not the only one as it seemed like no one could hold onto a weapon at the event.  Nick Schneider dropped during his team form debut with Cory Lutkus and Scott Cornelius, Cory Lutkus dropped in individuals during his competition comeback, Connor Griffin dropped towards the end of an awesome routine, Ross Kohnstam was looking good when he dropped, Scott Cornelius dropped in both his routines, Micah Karns dropped his bo during his bow out (really?  Yes, really) and Jeff Langlois forgot his kamas in the hotel room and then dropped one of his borrowed ones.

Despite the competition chaos, it was the 11 and under boys division that caught our eye.  Two young men are exchanging wins – Dallas Liu and Danny Etkin.  Liu, a former 1-2 Watch competitor and Etkin, who has been making his mark the past few years are making this age group very exciting.  The two have a connection to the Emig and Canonizado battle as Liu is trained by Canonizado and Etkin is trained by (and is the mirror image of) Emig.  In the extreme, musical and creative weapons and forms divisions, Liu and Etkin have a friendly rivalry going.  At the 2011 New England Open, Liu walked away with two Friday night wins and Etkin with one.

The 16-17 boys and girls forms and weapons divisions have their own rivalries going on as well.  For the boys, Micah Karns, Vincent Scarduzio and Tyler Powell are out in front in the division.  When he is focused (and he usually is), Karns is just amazing with his physical ability and weapons tricks.  Look up the phrase “hard work” in the dictionary and you should see Scarduzio’s picture there.  Scarduzio puts in the effort and has such a strong presence in the ring.  Powell’s initial performances of the night were not as strong as needed for the win but as the night wore on, his later performances were definitely of a higher caliber.  As these three jostle about for dominance, the spectators get the reward of seeing fantastic routines.

For the girls, Micayla Johnson, Stephanie Figueroa and Jessica Goldman have their own fight on their hands.  We’d put Johnson’s kama routine up against anyone, anytime.  Figueroa is unstoppable in the traditional weapons divisions but is starting to make a dent in the creative arena as well.  Goldman’s strong open hand routine makes judging this division so difficult.

For the juniors, the forms and weapons run offs are scheduled for Saturday and that will be the final say for all of the youth battles.

There were five teams for men’s team sparring.  A contingent of Canadians made the trip to the event and David Bossinotte of Studio Unis in Quebec, Canada decided to team up with two newly turned 18-year-olds, Alexandre Baril and Dany Croteau.  The three faced Team All Stars in round one.  Bossinotte and wife (and great fighter in her own right), Claire Cocozza just had a new baby boy, Noah and we send our congratulations to them both.  Baril and Croteau held their own against Chris Walker and Joe Fife of Team All Stars but still left the much older and wiser (he made us say that) Bossinotte with a deficit as he faced Raymond Daniels in the final round.  Bossinotte was not able to make up the deficit and Team All Stars advanced.

In the other bracket, Team Full Circle 2 defeated the Minnesota contingent of Team Straight Up (Nathan Thorn, Cody Nascene and Joe Boone) to advance.  Team Full Circle 2 then bowed out to Team Full Circle 1 and the final match was set – Full Circle versus All Stars.  The new team sparring rules that require a point over for a competitor falling to the ground or stepping out of bounds caused a lot of controversy and had a big impact on the score in the final match.

In round one, Hamed Firouzi returned to the ring and faced Joe Fife of Team All Stars.  Firouzi was busy winning the fight when a rules violation gave Fife points.  In the end, the score was tied 4-4 going into round two of fighting.  In the earlier match against Team Studio Unis, Chris Walker had looked a bit rusty.  When Walker stepped into the ring for round two, Full Circle made the surprise move of sending Ross Levine, the normal anchor, to fight.  Knowing that Raymond Daniels was up in the final round, the strategy may have been to have Levine try to run up points against Walker to give Full Circle a lead going into the final round.  Levine did a good job of this initially, getting to a 4-1 lead.  Another rules violation brought Walker back into within one point and then the fight was on as Walker held his own and the match ended with a tie of 6-6.

Jason “the Sleeper” Grenier of Canada has been thinking, dreaming and waiting for a moment to go head-to-head with Raymond Daniels and get a win for his team.  He was given coverage of the 2011 New England Open

Jason Grenier attacks Raymond Daniels in the final men's team sparring match.

his chance this evening as he faced Daniels with the score tied.  Grenier opened the match scoring first and managed to sit on that lead for a bit.  Daniels returned the favor scoring his own point.  Then, another controversial rules violation put Grenier up 3-1.  As the time was ticking down, Daniels went on the attack to try and get back his points.  Grenier was smart enough and quick enough to counter or avoid most things that Daniels threw.  Daniels did score one more point but Grenier blitzed and scored his own.  When the clock sounded, it was Grenier up 4-2 and Team Full Circle going home with a hard fought victory.

Team All Stars will get its chance to avenge the loss during the Saturday individual sparring competition.  We’ll bring you all the highlights!